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Archive for the ‘Bits and Bytes’ Category

I really enjoy the different flavors of frozen yogurt at Front Porch.  It’s the perfect way to treat the kids any time of the year.  They always make crazy sundaes with the toppings.  Sierra loves the balls of fruit juice, Ben always goes for Cinnamon Toast Crunch (which btw goes with the chocolate flavor and reminds me of Mexican hot cocoa).

Join their club to get discounts on more frozen yogurt. Yum!

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Check them out on Facebook.

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My Junior Derber

My Junior Derber

You know it’s quite the workout playing roller derby, and I’ve had to change the way I look at food.  This is especially interesting coming from a food blogger standpoint, where food was for playing with rather than fueling my body.  OK, maybe not just for playing, I do have minions to feed!  Cooking can get boring and monotonous, so picking up a new ingredient or trying a different product can spice things up in the kitchen.  Now that I’m at the rink 4 or 5 times a week between Junior Derby and league practices there’s not much leisure time in the kitchen.  It’s become a hamster wheel of get in, cook, stuff it in your face, get out.  I’m a slow eater and I get upset when rushed, perhaps this stems from growing up on the farm away from bustling city activity.  The cows won’t care if you’re 10 minutes late with that bale of hay and there’s no traffic jam getting it to them.  I digress… Look! It’s a burger!

Frozen Turkey Burgers

Frozen Turkey Burgers

Not all frozen foods are created equal.  I would much rather buy fresh ground organic turkey to make my own burgers but crunch time in the kitchen calls for the necessary evils of stocking the freezer with “ready to heat” food.  These frozen turkey burgers were a little spongy (albeit I didn’t read the label, so who knows what’s in it!)  but they worked fine after getting home after a mother of a derby practice and I needed protein.

Bacon Cheese Scones

Bacon Cheese Scones

Oh, yeah.  My friends on skates happen to share my love for bacon, I made some bacon cheddar scones as a snack at the first bout I helped NSO.  They were snapped up!  So I try my best to bake them for our home bouts now.

Mmm Bison

Mmm Bison!

We have a new Whole Foods in the Domain in north Austin, I found these little bison meat bars there.  It’s like a Thanksgiving meatloaf.  Kinda weird but they work well when I’m running late to practice.

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Cop & Donut (LOL)

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Amy’s Coffee Ice Cream after practice

Sometimes treats are in order.

The Gourdough’s chocolate bacon donut is interesting, if you love bacon and you love chocolate you must try this.  It’s especially good after a few beers while watching some random live band in east Austin.

Amy’s Ice Cream is dangerous, I tell ya!  But delicious, oh so freaking delicious.  The day they make Tiger ice cream is the day I will apply for a part-time position there, just to have access to the best ice cream in the universe (in my humble opinion).  For now, it’s about 2000 miles to get Tiger ice cream in Sylvan Lake, Alberta.  Boo.  Sad, sad derby girl!

Tiger Ice Cream

Tiger Ice Cream

 

 

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As a Mom of two rambunctious kids I know full well that “camping” means work for me and fun for them.  But Moms already know that it takes a lot more effort to go our there and have fun than to sit at home.  These days I’m so busy with day-to-day life, it was refreshing to turn off the phone and not bring any electronics to Inks Lake State Park.  The trip was a Scout Pack activity but everyone in the family is welcome, and most of the parents were Moms!

Camping did have me a little worried.  Little Sister likes to play in the dirt, with bugs, and chases butterflies.  She could easily get lost!  All the families kept an eye on the heard of kids as they explored our piece of heaven.  I went to the rescue of a boy while taking pictures of this flowering cactus, he fell on to the very same species I was admiring.  My trusty multi-tool with pliers came in handy as I played field EMT removing thorns and pins.  I was thankful it wasn’t one of my kids.  Sure enough though, Big Brother took a spill and scratched up his knee.  I could tell it was him by the yelp through the trees.  Can’t have fun without someone getting hurt.

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I prepared some beef carnitas the night before we left, froze them and carried it in the cooler.  Wrapped in two layers of foil they sat on the coals until heated through.  On the side, a mixture of potatoes, sweet onion, and tomatoes cooked in foil.  A very satisfying meal.

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Campfire Carnitas

  • 1 pound skirt or flank steak
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup diced sweet onion
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3-4 chilies in adobo sauce, seeded and finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup marinara sauce

Sear the beef on both sides, remove to a plate to rest.  Sauté the carrot and onion in the pan with olive oil.  Add the garlic powder, chilies and marinara sauce.  Slice the meat against the grain and return to the pan.  Reduce the heat to simmer and cook until the carrots are soft, about another 10 minutes.  Cool and pour into a ziptop bag, freeze overnight.

Remove the carnitas from the bag.  Double wrap the mixture (it can be frozen) in foil.  Heat over medium coals until bubbling hot again.  Serve with tortillas and your favorite toppings like avocado, pico de gallo, or cilantro.

 

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Breakfast was fruit salad (mango, banana, pear).  I was still stuffed with s’mores from last night.  The kids had cereal and milk, as well as some of my fruit.

The park was unbelievably beautiful.  Real toilets with showers, albeit a short hike away, were nice since we were tenting.

For more ideas on food outdoors, check out the Texas Parks Picnicking Page.  I’ll leave you with a slideshow of the trip.

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chop drop soup

This is not so much a recipe as it is a map or method to creating soul satisfying soup in five easy steps.  Let your imagination go wild, with the blessing of your taste buds of course.  Soups are a perfect way to use seasonal veggies that you may find at your local farmers market.  Say there is an unusual squash on the table, ask the grower if it is hard, bitter, sweet, or soft?  Bitter squash is not the best candidate for soups, at least in my view, so I avoid those.  Zucchini is about as bitter as I will go.  Give chop and drop a try!

Step 1

Empty the veggie drawer into the (clean) kitchen sink or counter.  Wash all skin-stay-on veggies.

Step 2

Peel and trim veggies.  Chop into manageable pieces.  Hint: the smaller the dice the hastier it cooks!

Step 3

Drop into a soup pot with a swirl of olive oil, sprinkle of salt and pepper.  Stir.

Step 4

Add liquids.  Choose your favorite stock, broth, bouillon, OXO, Knorr, or even tomato puree, or can of cream of whatever plus milk.

Step 5

Wait.  Poke the veggies to see if they are tender. Heck, you could even taste one or two.

You are ready to eat!

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Tracy Claros loves Sticky Toffee Pudding and draws on those flavor elements for her artisan English Puddings. Tracy shared three of her creations with attendees of TECHmunch in Austin, TX today.

stcky tofee toffee pudding

 

sticky toffee pudding squares

Tracy at The Sticky Toffee Pudding Co

Thanks Tracy for feeding us bloggers your treats!

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A taste of home

I was in the store and spotted a year’s supply of Breton crackers!  I have fond memories of my grandmother’s house (and then nursing home) that involve Breton wheat crackers, cheese, a pot of tea and the warmest soul that was Granny K.  I almost broke down in tears when I saw this…

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I moved on without picking up a box, I might go back just for those crackers.  If you come over anytime soon, you will probably be forced to eat them with me!

My Mom is in town for spring break and she brought me some chips.

texas ketchup dill pickle chips

I still don’t understand why there are no Ketchup or Dill Pickle chips in Texas.  There was the one time I found some at HEB but they were gone the next trip to the store.  So I have my family bootlegging chips for me!  My Dad brought me a 12 pack of Big Rock beer years ago, which was my favorite brewery in Calgary, Alberta. If you visit Calgary see about getting a brewery tour there, I happened to be there at the right moment and hitched a tour with a group from Shell.  It was awesome (the free beer at the end that is…)

Chips are not exactly part of my healthier eating plans for 2013, but you have to indulge to keep life interesting.

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  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1/3 cup french onion dip or sour cream
  • 1/4 cup finely diced tomato
  • sea salt
  • cilantro

Mix and serve with fresh cut vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots.

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You are a size four

“Hey, damn it, listen already.  You are not a size two, trust me on this, you are a size four.  The laws of physics are simply not in your favor, honey.  Accept it.  Just.  Fucking. Accept it!”

That was me cursing out some C++ code today.

Yes indeedy, I’m that nerdy.  I talk to my computer and threaten it anytime it gets out of line.  If you’re wondering WTF was wrong, I had a bitstring that kept coming up as two bytes instead of four like it should have.  Arg!

This is also a reflection of how I feel about my weight lately.  A recent trip to the doctor had me on the scale and it took me by surprise.  When the nurse read the number I was incredulous.  I wanted to strip down to my granny panties and have a do-over.  There’s no way I was back up (and over) 150 pounds.  Ha, and I’m far from a size four!

I know y’all will flatter me with the “but you look awesome” and the “who cares, it’s not showing on your frame” comments.  I’m a woman.  It matters.  For no other reason, I hate shopping for clothes and I don’t want to have to buy more pants because I ate too much BBQ.   Although, there are a few maternity pieces languishing in my closet….

Naaah!  (I should really donate those, not having anymore wee ones this side of hell freezing over.)

Exercise might be the answer.  And less stress, that would be nice.  Anyone have a magic genie I could borrow?  POOF!  Size 4!

fried croutons for salad

I’ll just go wallow in my salad topped with garlic oil fried croutons.  Suppose “fried” is not my friend anymore, guess I should lay off the burgers and poutine for a while, eh?

Maybe the kids will let me chase them to the park.

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Tonight is the New Member Mixer hosted by the Austin Food Blogger Alliance and Savory Spice Shop on 6th.  I’ll either post a recap of the event here or on the AFBA blog once I can find some pictures.

Meanwhile….

Here are a few recipes I jotted down using some of the spice blends available at Savory Spice Shop:

Guacamole

guacamole savory spice shop

  • 1 large or 2 small ripe avocado
  • 1 tsp Peruvian Chile Lime blend
  • 2 tsp fresh lime juice
  • salt to taste

Cut the avocado open and scoop out the flesh in to a small mixing bowl.  Add the Peruvian Chile Lime blend and lime juice, mash with a fork.  Taste and add a small pinch of salt to taste.

Guisado

peruvian chile spice - guisado

  • 1/2 pound organic ground beef (85/15)
  • 1/4 tsp salt and pepper
  • 2 red potatoes
  • 1/2 can of petite diced tomatoes with green pepper and onion
  • 5 white mushrooms, cleaned and stems removed
  • 1/2 cup carrot, sliced
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  • 2 tsp Peruvian Chile Lime blend
  • 1 tsp Greek herb blend (or oregano)
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup water

Brown the beef with salt and pepper and remove from the pan.  Sautee the vegetables for about 4 minutes, then add the Peruvian Chile Lime blend and Greek herb blend.  Add the beef back to the pan and the sauce.  Stir in the water.  Cover and reduce the heat to simmer until the potatoes are cooked, about 8 minutes.  Serve alone or with rice.

Herbed Mashed Potatoes

herbed mash potatoes

  • 1 cup mashed Russet potato
  • 1 tsp Hudson Bay Beef Spice blend
  • pinch of salt
  • sour cream

This recipe is based on a per cup of potato serving.  Blend everything together well with a potato masher while warm.

Rockfish with Mango Salsa

barrier reef seasoning - mango salsa on rockfish

Salsa

  • 1 cup mango, finely diced (about one large mango that is firm but ripe)
  • 1/2 cup organic heirloom tomato (one that is slightly larger than an egg), diced
  • 2 tsp shallot, finely minced
  • 3 tsp cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tsp Barrier Reef Seasoning
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp olive oil

Combine in a bowl, cover and refrigerate while preparing the fish.  There’s enough salsa for two large fillets.

Fish

  • parchment paper
  • 1 (1/3 lb) Rockfish fillet, remove pin bones
  • 1/2 tsp Barrier Reef Seasoning
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk (I used Silk original)

Make a pouch with the parchment paper.  Season the fish with the seasoning and salt then place it in the pouch.  Pour the coconut milk in and seal up the opening.  Fold the edges to make a tight package around the fillet.  Bake at 375ºF for about 8 or 9 minutes, until the fish is firm to the touch.

Serve the fish with the mango salsa.

Note: This is also delicious on Wild Sockeye Salmon, just season the salmon with the Barrier Reef Seasoning then bake at 350ºF for 10-12 minutes (for a 1 inch thick fillet).  Use leftovers to make wraps for lunch the next day…post coming on that soon.

Stuffed Mushrooms

peruvian spiced stuffed mushrooms

  • 1 lb cremini mushrooms (about 12)
  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • 2 tsp Peruvian Chile Lime Seasoning
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 yellow onion (about 1 cup diced)
  • 1/2 large tomato, fine dice
  • 1/2 bell pepper, fine dice
  • shredded cheddar or colby jack

Pre-heat oven to 400ºF.  Line a baking sheet with foil.

In a pan over medium heat, sautee the onion in olive oil.  Add the seasoning and salt.  Add the tomato and pepper, cook until soft.  Add the rice and remove the pan from the heat.  Stir gently to combine and let cool slightly.

Clean the mushrooms and remove the stems.

Arrange the mushroom caps on the foil lined pan.  Stuff the caps with as much of the mixture as they will possibly hold, bake for 12 minutes.  Top each mushroom with the shredded cheese and return it to the oven until the cheese melts.

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This is it.  This is the year I jump on the hippie bandwagon.  You’ve probably seen it coming, last year I started really looking into what we are doing to ourselves through food.  I believe the hype, but it’s not hype at all.  That’s what the people hurting you want you to believe.  Hype.  Stupid hippie hype.

Evidence that “they” are feeding us B.S. (pun intended) came up during the 2012 election and Prop 37 in California.  Big bucks were poured into the No campaign for Prop 37 so that manufacturers would not have to label foods with genetically modified organisms.  There is a petition against GMO salmon right now that I’ve signed and I hope you will too.

I’m reading labels and looking for the Non-GMO Verified stamp.  No high fructose corn syrup, which includes pop.  I’ve found alternatives to my Dr. Pepper crutch, one is a Dry Soda in Vanilla that was fizzy and refreshing and natural.  Pop in Canada was (and I hope still is) made with real cane sugar, I’ll admit this is not much better but at least it’s a step away from the corn that could be GMO corn.   No aspertame, this is not a hard change to make because I’ve never liked the weird flavor and after taste.

Eating more organic food, less meat, and drinking water has dramatically improved my skin.  I was smearing on a prescription cream for rosecea every morning, I haven’t used the cream in over a month!  Getting all the chemicals and possible GM contaminated foods out of my system also seems to help with mood swings.   Feeling kinda crappy?  Eat an avocado and a pommegranate, I’m not sure what combinations of omega-3’s and vitamins would be in there, all I know is how I feel after boosting up on good food.  The only meat I’m not sure will forever disappear from my kitchen is bacon.  I know about the monsterous hog farmers who keep the pigs so confined that they can’t turn around in their pens.  I’m hoping that places like that will be forced to change.

At the AFBA Christmas party, I received a copy of Michael Natkins’ book Herbivoracious which is full of (lacto ovo) vegetarian, gluten-free, and vegan dishes.   Just reading through this book makes me drool!  These are a few recipes earmarked so far:

    • Chana Chaat with Pappadams
    • Risotto Balls [Arancini di riso]
    • Tempeh-filled Potstickers [Gyoza]
    • Quuinoa Cakes
    • Middle Eastern Rice and Lentil Pilaf [Mujadara]

2013 is out with meat-n-potatoes, in with wholesome veggies and grains, smaller plates, and no soda pop.

C’est bon, mes amis!

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